Lollipop Chainsaw Re-review: Grindhouse For The Girls

Lollipop Chainsaw Re-review: Grindhouse For The Girls

Dragami Video games introduced this month that its Lollipop Chainsaw remake launch was getting delayed to 2024. By no means having performed hack-and-slash Lollipop earlier than, however eagerly awaiting the remake, I made a decision to manage rationally: I spent $40 on a recreation made 11 years in the past, and hauled my mates’ dirty Xbox 360 to my condominium.

I had recognized the horror tales about upskirt achievements and rampant objectification, however after enjoying Lollipop, I feel its unicorn vomit-covered motion is neither really offensive, nor topped with the lascivious whipped cream determined males swear it’s smeared in. Like schoolkids and fairies, the sport is misunderstood. And after rummaging by its dental floss bikinis and love letter-wide cheer uniforms, I discover that Lollipop is among the extra charming video games for women on the market.

Hack-and-slash my coronary heart

Sure, it’s for women. It’s particularly for women in 2023, a 12 months that—as each Willa Rowe for Inverse and Stacey Henley in TheGamer appropriately notice—absolutely welcomes bimbos, sluts, and any form of whore to the pot of gold on the finish of feminism. The sport, a collaboration between cult-favorite designer Suda51 and The Suicide Squad (2021) director James Gunn, guiltlessly options bimbo-slut-whore captain Juliet Starling as its chainsaw-swinging protagonist. She’s a cheerleader on the fictional San Romero highschool, she subsists on lollipops (“I do know what you’re considering,” she says whereas her silhouette flexes a lean abdomen within the recreation’s intro, “I’m getting sooo fats!”), and he or she’s been taking some pole dancing courses. Immediately is her 18th birthday. Quelle shock!

Picture: Grasshopper Manufacture

Juliet presents as a caricature, however the extra I carve the zombie rot overtaking her highschool along with her rhinestone-struck weapon, the extra I really feel like I’m her. For the reason that recreation’s roughly six-hour-long playthrough is confined to button-mashing (there are, technically further combos you should buy with Gold Medals that spill out of destroyed zombie guts, however I all the time discover stabbing X and Y repeatedly with my thumb to be extra satisfying) and quick-time occasions, it’s straightforward to place myself on autopilot whereas chopping up enemy hordes within the its quick ranges.

I button-mash so effectively that I turn out to be an skilled in a tumbling somersault that splashes scorching pink and cuts a path to Juliet’s Sparkle Searching, a fight mechanic product of sweet hearts and glitter, which signifies I’ve concurrently killed three (or extra) zombies and gained extra Gold, and a few rarer Platinum, Medals.

Easy fight means I float by the Lollipop Chainsaw’s Regular setting continually amused, like a cat in a sofa cushion, and get to purchase a rain of power-ups like health-expanding Rodent Chow Mein or Energy Dumbbells to spice up my power, making it so I by no means really feel overwhelmed once I’m low on Chainsaw Blaster bullets, or being confronted by particular zombies. A few of these can fly, for some purpose.

I not often attain for the strawberry lollipops I discover shimmering across the map to recuperate my well being. I chill, as an alternative, and pursue the “Threads” part at Lollipop’s Geocities-style Chop2Shop.zom retailer, till I notice I’ve needed to spend about 100 Platinum Medals to get a Juliet pores and skin that covers her shoulders.

Feminine protagonists (concept)

Proper—about that. I discover instantly that the survival horror-comedy recreation is conflicted about how its participant ought to see Juliet. She’s received, as she describes it, a “ginormous, fats butt” and is barely authorized, so, utilizing online game logic from Lifeless or Alive, Steel Gear Strong V, or Bayonetta, she ought to moan her approach by bloodshot glamor pictures, slipping and falling into victory.

Lollipop tries that method, now and again. After her letterman jacket of a boyfriend Nick will get bitten, Juliet makes use of magic—a prerequisite of any member of her ghoul-slayer household—to cease zombie venom from mushing his mind, and he finally ends up as a decapitated, speaking head.

“Is {that a} new purse? Wait, it’s your boyfriend!” Juliet’s sister Rosalind says the primary time she sees him dangling at Juliet’s facet.

Juliet wears Nick like a set of automobile keys on her waistband, giving the sport’s digicam a corridor move for peeking up her skirt each time it’s taking a look at Nick’s face. Lollipop additionally makes a limp joke out of Juliet’s sensei faceplanting into her chest a pair instances, and it permits each enemies and allies to toss nasty catcalls at Juliet with out protest.

“I by no means thought I’d be saved by somebody with such nice tits,” a classmate I shield from spoiled, dynamite-strapped zombies tells me, swiftly making me remorse it. Later, throughout one full-throttle boss battle, all of which signify a rock subgenre, a zombie asshole with a mohawk makes use of phrases—“STUPID COOZE! COCKSUCKER! FUCKING BITCH!”—as assaults that emerge from his mouth and must be dodged or sawed in half.

I get filth spat at me continually whereas strolling down the road in my neighborhood, so nothing males say in Lollipop sounds to me like satire. It sounds actual, and I can really feel butterflies beginning to suicide-bomb my abdomen.

However other than these queasy moments, when it looks like the sport is insisting to its presumed male viewers that it agrees, scorching women are simply as lifeless because the zombies getting gored throughout Juliet’s hometown, I don’t assume Juliet is handled poorly.

Objectification 101

Let’s return to how she turned her candy boyfriend right into a literal, tossable, pliable object.

“[Nick’s] actually was an adjunct, a commodity, and his humanity is denied,” James Gunn mentioned in a 2012 Destructoid interview, “Nick just isn’t solely emasculated, he’s tremendous emasculated.”

I’m, once more, not pleased with how uncritically Lollipop engages with this concept. At one level, fed up with getting used as a particular assault weapon, or glued onto limp zombie our bodies to assist Juliet fulfill duties—together with one horrible baseball minigame the place I’ve to shoot enemies whereas reanimated Nick runs the diamond—Nick lashes out: “You took away my selection, Juliet!”

Learn Extra: Lollipop Chainsaw: The Kotaku Evaluation

That line might have been a chance for males to, albeit, in a ridiculous context, higher perceive themselves as a part of world violence towards girls, and for ladies to be warned of the damaging attract of accepting patriarchal positions of energy, making them sparkle, however preserving them insidious.

Lollipop, as an alternative, shrugs off the loaded line prefer it’s as inconsequential as a dropped greenback. I study to forgive it—this can be a six-hour recreation, in any case; there isn’t sufficient time for annihilating sexism and lots of of ambling zombies—but it surely sticks with me as I attempt to course of Juliet as a headstrong, sophisticated particular person.

Not solely is she nimble along with her screaming chainsaw, utilizing her cheerleading experience to flip over and pom-pom punch dangerous guys, she’s additionally bilingual, dedicated to her household, and, a miracle for any teenager, appears to have a wholesome relationship along with her sexuality (“Killing zombies provides me whole wooden,” she says cheerfully).

Like her (comparatively) modern heroines in 1997 TV sequence Buffy, 2009 film Jennifer’s Physique, or Gunn’s 2006 directorial debut Slither, Juliet subverts audiences’ expectations for each femininity and engaging girls in horror. She declines Carol J. Clover’s formative definition of the Last Lady, which instructs her to be “a male surrogate in issues oedipal, a homoerotic stand-in, the viewers incorporate,” and as an alternative strikes frantically, determinately, along with her tits out, like a topic in one among Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist’s delirious music movies.

What all of it means

That’s why I see myself in her. And I can’t recover from that.

It’s refreshing to play a recreation that enables its feminine protagonist to be annoyingly talkative, sexual and competent, romantic and sensible. Juliet likes pigtails, little skirts, and Bazooka bubble gum pink, however she’s not a robotic—she’ll cease and cry if she desires to, enable herself to be susceptible when actuality units in.

There’s blood all over the place. There’s a rainbow. She’s a tough particular person. Juliet just isn’t straightforward to categorize, however that’s what makes enjoying her really feel so pure, and but so not like all of the “lady video games” I’ve performed earlier than—Flash video games that marketed themselves to me with flashing lights, Barbie make-up video games, celeb dress-up, that form of factor. There was by no means any loss of life or something ugly the way in which there’s in Lollipop Chainsaw, although it was all the time apparent from the way in which individuals stared and the way my favourite scary motion pictures labored that these have been necessary components of girlhood, too.

Juliet faces off with zombies in a burning high school building.

Picture: Grasshopper Manufacture

“You maintain me down like a magnet / And this isn’t the life for me / No, this isn’t,” riot grrrls Bikini Kill sing.

At this second in gaming, persons are arguing about wanting one million Baldur’s Gate 3s—graphically spectacular tomes, or second worlds to run to for so long as Mars isn’t viable.

I performed Lollipop Chainsaw on a console from 2005, and I do know that each one I would like from video games is easy understanding. This womanhood factor is fairly bizarre, don’t you assume? It’s not 24-hour dress-up, a drama-free boudoir, it’s messy and harmful like the remainder of the world.

Lollipop Chainsaw understands that in its coronary heart, and it serves bitter gummy worms—enjoyable froth, a zombie-hunter who’s given sufficient house and equipment to be a zombie-hunter unquestioned.

“I’ve received the love that’s robust and never weak / I’ve received the love that’s robust and never weak,” proclaims Bikini Kill. Juliet’s legacy, greater than a decade out from her 18th birthday, is a excessive level for ladies in video games. She conjures up me, makes me chuckle, and teaches me that, God, I really like killing shit on my Xbox.

 

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